In one of his typically economical summations of the Evildoers' weltanschauung, President Bush explained that "they're flat evil. That's all they can think about, is evil."
A brain that thinks about nothing but evil will look as abnormal to an fMRI technician as it does to God, which may offer Civilization a powerful weapon against the theory, as well as the practice, of evildoing:
SSRM Tek is presented to a subject as an innocent computer game that flashes subliminal images across the screen -- like pictures of Osama bin Laden or the World Trade Center. The "player" -- a traveler at an airport screening line, for example -- presses a button in response to the images, without consciously registering what he or she is looking at. The terrorist's response to the scrambled image involuntarily differs from the innocent person's, according to the theory....I assume "clean" means a properly horrified or angry subconscious response, as opposed to, say, resentful nostalgia for the dear dead days of national unity. Or pride at having been "proved fucking right" about the ragheads.
Marketed in North America as SSRM Tek, the technology will soon be tested for airport screening by a U.S. company under contract to the Department of Homeland Security.
"If it's a clean result, the passengers are allowed through," said Rusalkina, during a reporter's visit last year. "If there's something there, that person will need to go through extra checks."
Once we've used this system (and this one) to purge the body politic of active and larval terrorists, I'm hoping we can redesign it to screen public servants for authoritarian tendencies. It could flash subliminal images of torture at Abu Ghraib, and inflatable detention camps on the Texas border, and the active denial system, and perhaps even SSRM Tek itself, and then measure the subject's enjoyment. Anyone who showed signs of excitement - more drooling than usual, for instance - would be barred from holding public office.
There may be a few false positives now and again, but that's a small price to pay to keep American democracy safe.
(Photo at top via Mr. Bali Hai.)